Hey Folks, how are you all doing? Well, after getting all enthusiastic about our two days of summer last week, which I mentioned in this previous post, I was really hoping that when we decided we were going to get in some decent hillwalking over the weekend, doing part of Jocks Road, we would at least keep the temperature above freezing. My wish was granted, the temperature remained above freezing, albeit dropping from 22.5 last Wednesday, a stunning day when I was in Edinburgh, to 9.5 on Saturday……
Still, our weather is what it is and I’d far rather spend my time, when it’s at least possible to get outside in Scotland, doing just that. Getting out and about, spending time in our glorious mountainous scenery (not that we saw too much of it here 😉 ) and with good friends too.
Plus there was also another reason for our quick jaunt and 10 mile hike up to Davy’s Bourach and back. Training. Yep, our Ben Nevis climb is firmly in the calendar for the end of August. It’s all very well going to the gym 3 – 4 times a week, but nothing compares to actually physically going up the mountains. That’s when you suddenly discover muscles, that you previously hadn’t known of!
You’ve seen me / us out walking with Liam in previous hillwalking posts, Dreish and Mayar and also Mount Keen. But this was Liam’s girlfriend, Catherine’s, first real jaunt up the mountains. All of us are regular gym goers, but as I said above, nothing beats the true physical excersion of acually climbing the mountains, so this was Catherine’s induction. She did well. These mountains can be pretty intimidating in terms of their size, the terrain, the unexpected sheer cliff drops around each corner and the total effort and head around this whole thing that is required.
So, anyway, onwards with the photographs and talk through of the day…..
Arriving at 8.00, and parking in the car park, gave us just enough time for a quick cup of “posh” sachet coffee and a true Scottish snack, a tunnocks teacake, supplied by Liam. A comfort break for all (it isn’t as easy for the ladies as it is for us blokes on the hillside 😉 ), and we are ready to set off at 8.30.
Setting off through the trees, on the road built by the Forestry Commission, it’s particularly green and lush at this time of year.
From left to right, Catherine, Liam and a rare yours truly. This is a brilliant and exhilarating walk. If you do do the whole 14 miles, which I’ve done several times previously, to Braemar, it’s possible to camp and pitch your tent anywhere between here and Braemar (obviously there’s no facilities and you’re fully exposed to all the elements). But, then when you get to Braemar, you could have an evening in a hotel / hostel / bunk house there, before setting off to Aviemore via the Lairig Ghru, another 19 miles.
Showing off her new rucksack minus the empty water bottle which had just tipped out all over my semi-new car 🙂 , Lynne is seen here with her new trousers too, ready to hit the mountain trail!
After a good mile and a bit walking through the forestry plantation, we hit the bare hillside where the path begins it’s slow ascent some 700ft into the clouds.
Looking back to where we began our ascent, and also the bridge in the centre of the photo, where we will detour on the way back, you can see just how low the clouds are over the mountain tops.
And now, just over a mile away from the tree line, you can make out the path we’ve followed winding it’s way upwards.
The path is well worn, but also well looked after with it being an ancient drovers route for cattle. That’s what many of these ancient paths were in Scotland. Ways for farmers to get their sheep and cattle to market as quickly as possible, and no more so this one. It was mainly sheep that were shepherded down this road, from Braemar to a market at nearby Kirriemiur.
The White Water starts just above here, beginning it’s decent into the Glen, where it flows all the way through Glen Doll and then joins the River South Esk at Braedownie.
It’s time to get the waterproofs on here. Although not raining heavily, there’s enough moisture in the air to get you pretty wet. This is why you need proper gear when attempting any kind of walking in these hills. Five minutes in these conditions, and if wearing jeans and trainers, could easily have you soaked through, extremely wet, leading to potential hypothermia!
A quick stop for some photographs at Davy’s Bourach. A quick look inside to check for anyone there, fortunately it’s empty, being that it’s only supposed to be an emergency mountain shelter! And then that’s it, a quick about turn and back down the path we go!
Just to pause at this point though, and to prove a point about what I said earlier. Walking in these hills is a serious business, especially in the depths of winter as this plaque reminds us here. Five walkers lost their lives whilst attempting to walk from Braemar to Glen Doll, one New Years day, when they encountered storm force 11 winds, deep and driving snow and a severe wind chill (-25C). Tragically, these experienced hill walkers lost their lives here. All five men died in a winter so severe it was four months before all their bodies were recovered.
On reaching the tree line again, we are now back down and looking up, crossing over the bridge that I mentioned earlier. You can see how far we walked, being as we were in the clouds previously! Lynne insisted we do this detour back. Which was a marked alternative pathway alongside the White Water, and a more open walk than through the forest earlier.
Peaceful, serene, and with just the sounds of the birds, a light wind and our boots on the path it was a nice gentle troll back down to the car park.
After packing up, and leaving the car park, we drove the 4 miles down the glen to the Glen Clova Hotel. Lynne and Catherine decided to celebrate the end of their walk by sharing a bottle of wine. The drivers (Liam and myself) opted for some of the delicious home cooked food. Liam had a superb looking lemon drizzle cake and I had a bowl of a really satisfying cullen skink served with freshly make brown bread. Delicious! And just what I was looking for. We had taken rolls, fruit and snacks with us, but you can’t beat good home cooked food when you’ve truely earned it!
We all enjoyed the walk, and the hospitality at the end, and we’ve already booked into the climbers bunkhouse here, at the back of the hotel, for early July. This is the route and walk we will be taking on that day. I’m already looking forward to it. The walk will be great, and I love the self catering part of using the bunkhouse. I wonder what kind of hillwalking breakfast I should prepare. Hmmmmm….. 😀
So, I’m back on Thursday folks with a superb new vegetarian recipe. Hope you enjoyed the pics. See you then!